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SCLC Conference 2019 Beth Watts

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Keynote from Beth Watts at the Scottish Care Leavers Covenant Conference 2019

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SCLC Conference 2019 Beth Watts

  1. 1. Rights, wellbeing & home in Scotland: where we’ve come from & where we need to go Beth Watts I-SPHERE, Heriot-Watt University @BethWatts494 @ISPHERE_HWU Scottish Care Leavers Covenant Conference, Glasgow, March 2019
  2. 2. The story so far….
  3. 3. Scotland’s rights-based response to homelessness •  Virtually all homeless households have a legal entitlement to temporary accommodation and settled rehousing •  ‘Blunt’ legal framework –  focus on meeting housing need and crowds out considerations of deservingness, ‘housing readiness’, social mix etc. –  psycho-social benefits – sense of entitlement, empowerment •  Since 2010, much stronger emphasis on homelessness prevention •  Growing outrage about homelessness during 2016/17 prompted Scottish Government response –  £50m five-year ‘Ending Homelessness Together Fund’ –  Cross sector Action Group convened
  4. 4. Homeless households in temporary accommodation
  5. 5. Types of temporary accommodation used
  6. 6. Average length of time in temporary accommodation
  7. 7. Current policy priorities •  Transition to ‘rapid rehousing by default’ over 5 year period – Housing First for those with complex needs •  Introducing a legal duty on local authorities and other public agencies to prevent homelessness –  A legal right to have homelessness prevented, following developments in Wales and England •  Improve quality of temporary accommodation via legally enforceable standards across TA types and legal restrictions on B&B use •  Ensure people have appropriate amount and kind of personalised support available
  8. 8. Where we need to go….
  9. 9. What are the aims of social policy? •  Human beings have some shared inherent nature – have certain things in common that they require to flourish and live a ‘well lived’ life (Martha Nussbaum) •  We should consider social policy from an account of what it enables people to do and be – the capabilities it fosters (Helen Taylor) •  In a minimally just society, everyone meets the basic threshold for ‘core capabilities’
  10. 10. The central capabilities •  Life: avoidance of an untimely death •  Bodily health and bodily integrity: food, water, shelter, warmth, mobility, contact •  Thought, emotion and reason: be able to imagine, think, reason, have emotional attachments, form a conception of the good life and plan one’s life accordingly •  Affiliation, other species and recreation: relatedness to other people and species and enjoy life through play/leisure •  Control over one’s environment: political participation and in terms of access to property, goods and employment
  11. 11. B&B – the negatives “I'm nearly a 40-year-old man and I'm being told what time to fucking [be back at night]… Know what I mean? I should be allowed to decide when I come back, no fucking somebody else, nearly 40-year-old, fucks sake” (Edinburgh, male) “nothing's your own. You're getting watched all the time, you've got to answer to councils, and everything else, it's just mental. I've never had nothing like this in my life” (East Lothian, male) “bed and breakfast is a business… All they're looking for is the money at the end of the month, and the week… so, the B&Bs, the bad B&Bs that homeless people have to go into, they're not looked after, these places, they're just sweat boxes.” (Edinburgh, male) “[in B&Bs I witnessed] violent behaviour, self-harming… and you just think to yourself, there's noone… you could be lying in your room for days before anybody even knows something's happened to you” (Edinburgh, male) “it was just the drug use, and the alcohol use. It wasn't controlled at all. People were just totally out on drugs.” (Edinburgh, male)
  12. 12. B&B – some positives “This place is pretty nice. It's one of the better places… They have a cleaner that comes in every day… the person that runs it's really nice… My family are mostly in [part of East Lothian], so, it's not too far down the road for me, really, so, yes, it's okay… this place is good” (East Lothian, female) “The bed and breakfast, it was fine… I'd rather be in a B&B because as I says, I don't like people, I get very aggressive towards other males… In a B&B it's quieter… [in] the hostels they're all running amuck” (Edinburgh, male) “the B&B in terms of what you could get was brilliant… really, really lovely… I took a picture, I was like, 'Oh look, [I’m] in a hotel.' It was three beds, it was clean, it was an en suite. The staff were very friendly… it was five minutes from school, so it didn't mean a huge uproot in life” (Edinburgh, female with children)
  13. 13. Hostels – the negatives “we're not allowed anybody in our rooms” (East Ayrshire, female) “they shut the kitchen at 10.45 at night… When I wake up, I want to have something to eat and the kitchen's locked” (East Ayrshire, mixed group) “it’s awkward just to use the toilets and have a shower here or use the kitchen because it's communal so anyone can kind of just walk in” (Perth and Kinross, male) “I used to eat it and then think, I'm still starving” (Dundee, male) “it can be quite difficult when you know you're living with other people, it's loads of other people as well. There's a lot of tension… It makes it harder” (East Lothian, female) “Cunts wanted to put needles in my neck, man.” (Dundee, male) “I got mixed up with somebody that was selling Valium … he got pulled by the police…and because I was with him, I got kicked out, so that's what ended me up in the street” (Glasgow, female) “The only thing I don't like is I've got a bairn… and I can't even get to see her because [you’re] not allowed bairns in the hostel.” (Dundee, male) “my depression and anxiety got a lot worse whenever I first came in here” (Glasgow, male)
  14. 14. Hostels – the positives “these people actually care… There's a lot of people come in here with issues, mental issues… broken families… and here, you'll get that support” (Edinburgh, male) “they got me back to a psychiatrist again, so, just last week I got put back on my proper medication.” (Glasgow, female) “beforehand I wouldn't of gotten or known any support… about mental health and stuff… you have everyone around you to support you” (Perth and Kinross, female) “out of the three [hostels]… this is the best one so far. It's more calmer, more stable… [you get] your own flat… It's funny, you feel more like you exist… When you're sitting in a small room, you don't maybe feel comfortable or at home, whereas, here… it's just like having a flat, but secured entry.” (Dundee, male) “I've put three stone on, I used to be seven stone, do you know what I mean? I've came on wonders from this time last year” (East Ayrshire, mixed group) “there's people watching out for me and that in here… which is nice, because I've not had that for a while, not since I was 16” (Perth and Kinross, male) “I do like the security of the doors… because I get anxiety attacks… It does give me peace of mind when I sleep” (Glasgow, male) “it makes it easier because it's harder for drinking associates to keep me on that crazy bender.” (Dundee, male)
  15. 15. Temporary furnished flats – the negatives “The three kids: they do need their bed, they do need to play about, and there's not much space for all that” (East Lothian, male with children) “I'm having to share [a bed] with my 13-year-old daughter… I hate it… I'm also… suffering from COPD, and they've put me three floors up… I feel like a prisoner... The stairs have had a major impact on my health… I've been off my work for three months” (Dundee, female with children) “I've lost contact with a lot of friends” (Dundee, female with children) “It's a bad area.” (Dundee, female with children) “it's got damp. It's got repairs that need done everywhere. The council just, they don't do anything.” (Edinburgh, female with children) “it's quite depressing… you can't start unpacking… because you don't know how long you're going to be here… you're not properly settled… You want to make them a home [for the kids] and you just can't.” (Dundee, female with children) “you're in limbo and there's actually [only] so long that people can live in limbo without it really damaging their mental health” (Edinburgh, female with children)
  16. 16. Temporary furnished flats – the positives “Yes, it's very nice indeed here, it's very nice, even the house, yes, good people, nice neighbours, so we are happy.” (East Lothian, female with children) “It was in a fantastic location and the concierge of the building… he was so helpful. The neighbours were lovely… so as far as temporary accommodation went, from that aspect it was brilliant… [I] really quite enjoyed living there.” (Edinburgh, female with children) “going into temporary accommodation [TFF] has definitely made things a lot easier… you've got your own front and back door, which is a big thing, you can come and go as you please… the social aspect with my family and that being able to visit. Whereas when they come to visit you in the hostel, basically, all you can do is go and sit in the car somewhere... when they moved me into my first temporary accommodation [TFF], that opened the doors because they could come up and sit with me, watch TV, have their dinner with me” (East Ayrshire, male) “it is better living here [than in the hostel], because I've got my own space. This is practically like your own house… it is easier that way” (Glasgow, female) “I actually got on alright with that. I got on better with that than I did anywhere else… I think it was because I got left to my own devices” (Glasgow, female)
  17. 17. One young person’s experience •  19 year old, previously in care, in temporary furnished flat in Glasgow for nearly two years •  Flat broadly suitable for in terms of location, size and being self-contained. •  Previously in a hostel: “It's like, not the best of flats, but when you're in a hostel, obviously, you just really take anything that they give you… it is better living here… because I've got my own space”
  18. 18. •  Length of stay, waiting, life on hold and uncertainty Honestly, it's not great. I still get dead stressed out… everything's just a pure waiting game… You aren't supposed to have these flats long, but. This is just a stepping-stone until you get your own flat, and I've been here for pure ages… It's absolutely ridiculous. •  Future prospects, employment, poverty and high TA rents The course that I'm starting… at the end of it you get an interview… I'm saying to all these people, 'If I do this course and I get an interview, would they take me on for a job, or am I just supposed to say, no, I can't do it because, obviously, I'm stuck in this flat?’… I can't get a job. My rent's pure sky-high. If I got a job I would probably have less money… it's depressing.
  19. 19. •  Friendship, socialising and recreation all my pals are going on holiday… and I can't do anything like that. I can't even think about anything like that, because I just don't get enough [money] for that… they're like that… ‘You're being a pure bore, you're not coming to anything.' I was like… ‘I'd love to go to [holiday destination abroad], I'd love to go to movies, but I can't do that. I just don't get enough money for it'. •  Immediate environment – quality and control when I moved, in there was no skirting, or anything... It wasn't really decorated, there wasn't really much in it… I'm pure sick of the sight of it, so I am… my door handle's broken on my bedroom door, and I've been asking for pure months and months for them to fix it, and they've not fixed it… when the door shuts, you actually need to use a butter knife to get the lock off it, and I just think, what if I put something in the oven and I get locked in my room, and my phone's out there as well, what am I supposed to do?
  20. 20. Supported Lodgings “… after a while I felt very safe. It was such a homely environment. I felt like, it doesn't feel like a hostel, it doesn't feel like a care home. It feels like a house that I can go into and warm-up on a cold day or watch movies when I want to. It felt very, very homely. Very, very safe. Very good vibes.” Becca, England “Most importantly… I have a lot of independence, and I can come and go as I please, and I have a house key and stuff like that, but I know I have something to fall back on, a bit of a safety net still there… I have to do my own washing and stuff like that. Then there's certain stuff [the host] does, but I can do if I want to. It's just a really good environment for teaching you...” Jess, England “Just how much confidence it has given myself into being able to be who I want to be in life, and not doubting myself that I can't do things… the support and the help that you were given, compared to maybe being in a homeless unit, and not having that amount of support…” Mhari, Scotland
  21. 21. Conclusion •  To live a well lived life, people require to access accommodation in which they have control over their environment and opportunities for affiliation: –  To do the things they wish to do (eat when/what they want, socialise with who/where they want, work in a job they enjoy etc.) –  To be be the people (parents, partners, friends, workers, pet owners) they want to be •  Congregate forms of TA are most restrictive of autonomy and undermining of positive social relationships –  Autonomy should be maximised and rules/restrictions minimised –  But can be required because of intrinsic nature of congregate models •  Rapid access to ordinary mainstream settled housing is key; temporary furnished flats ‘best’ form of TA for most people, including single people –  Issues with temporary accommodation are mostly extrinsic to their nature i.e. fixable –  And there are other ways to facilitate access to ‘ordinary’ housing with support – Housing First and Rapid Rehousing, Supported Lodgings, floating support

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